By Carolyn Belardo
Tarantulas have a reputation that precedes them—terrifying, fast, hairy, scary. Now you can see the biggest, baddest and most fearsome of all spiders in Tarantulas: Alive and Up Close now through May 30.
Visitors will come face-to-face with nearly 20 species of live tarantulas—fangs and all—with only a pane of glass in between. Tarantulas takes visitors on a journey of scientific discovery, presenting these eight-legged giants of the spider world in a new light.
Focusing on the diverse and natural beauty of tarantulas, the exhibit provides a personal view of the hidden world of these incredible creatures and an engaging live experience for all ages. Videos, colorful graphics and interactive activities highlight the unique attributes of some of the 900 known species of tarantulas, which are found all over the world.
“This exhibit will be an eye-opener for everyone who has ever loathed OR loved spiders,” said Academy Senior Exhibits Director Jennifer Sontchi. “This exhibit appeals to people of all ages!”
Every Saturday and Sunday at 11:45 a.m. visitors will be able to experience a tarantula outside of its enclosure, and a tarantula keeper will talk about its features and answer questions. Visitors also will get to know these secretive creatures by:
-Examining tarantula hairs, fangs, silk and eyes under a microscope.
-Touching the skin, or exoskeleton, that a tarantula has shed, in a similar fashion as a snake.
-Playing dress-up by donning fun props or a tarantula costume, including one large enough for an adult.
-Finding all the hidden spiders in our scavenger hunt.
-Playing the “Name That Tarantula” game.
-Exploring where tarantulas live with the “Tarantulas of the World” interactive map.
-Stepping into a giant collecting jar and pretending to be a trapped arachnid.
Among the species on display are the Goliath birdeater (the largest of all tarantulas), the rare green bottle blue tarantula, and the Indian ornamental tarantula, a species troubled by loss of habitat. And each has a unique story to tell.
Tarantulas live in diverse habitats around the world, from the tallest rainforest treetops to deep underground in the most arid deserts. Some people keep tarantulas as pets; others eat them for dinner.
While habitat loss and pesticide use are threats to some species, scientists are still trying to understand some of the creatures’ attributes. One recent study, reported on in National Geographic, sought to solve the mystery of why some tarantulas are a beautiful vibrant blue. They’re still not sure.
Tarantulas: Alive and Up Close was created by Outhouse Exhibit Services, Inc.
To purchase tickets now online, visit our exhibits page.
All images by Mike Servedio/ANS